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Tuesday 9:00 AM

A man standing at the bus stop
reading the newspaper is on fire
Flames are peeking out
from beneath his collar and cuffs
His shoes have begun to melt

The woman next to him 
wants to mention it to him
that he is burning
but she is drowning
Water is everywhere
in her mouth and ears
in her eyes
A stream of water runs
steadily from her blouse

Another woman stands at the bus stop
freezing to death
She tries to stand near the man
who is on fire
to try to melt the icicles
that have formed on her eyelashes
and on her nostrils
to stop her teeth long enough
from chattering to say something
to the woman who is drowning
but the woman who is freezing to death
has trouble moving
with blocks of ice on her feet

It takes the three some time
to board the bus
what with the flames
and water and ice
But when they finally climb the stairs 
and take their seats
the driver doesn't even notice
that none of them has paid
because he is tortured
by visions and is wondering
if the man who got off at the last stop
was really being mauled to death
by wild dogs.

—Denver Butson

from Triptych, 1999
The Commoner Press, New York

Copyright 1999 by Denver Butson.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of The Commoner Press from Triptych. Copyright 1999 by Denver Butson. For further permissions information, contact Denver Butson, P.O. Box 1644 - Canal Street Station, New York, NY, 10013-0870.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Denver Butson is the author of four books of poetry, including The Sum of Uncountable Things (Deadly Chaps, 2015).

Learn more about Denver Butson.